The Molloy Environmental Hurling Championships get underway this weekend. The 2018 championships sees the introduction of a new system, with an eight club Senior A Championship, together with the introduction of a Senior B Championship.
Here’s a look into what is to come this weekend
Molloy Environmental Systems Senior A Hurling Championship
Saturday 31st March, at St Brendan’s Park, Birr
St Rynagh’s v Seir Kieran, at 4.30pm
The championship gets underway with a repeat of 2017’s semi-final, when Pat Camon’s 59th minute point saw St Rynagh’s win 0-14 to 1-10. St Rynagh’s hold a 25 – 10 lead in previous meetings, with six drawn and one disputed verdict.
Stephen Quirke was the Shannonsiders’ top scorer in 2017 with 2-53, and they will also include current Offaly squad members Ben Conneely, Dermot Shortt, Pat Camon and Ronan Hughes. Seir Kieran will be led by Offaly forward Joseph Bergin, who topped the 2017 championship scoring chart with 7-54.
Coolderry v Kilcormac-Killoughey, at 6pm
The second half of Saturday’s double header sees reigning champions Kilcormac-Killoughey begin their campaign against 2015 winners Coolderry. The sides last met in the first round last year, which K-K shaded 1-15 to 0-15. Prior to that, Coolderry beat K-K 0-17 to 0-16 in 2015’s round 5, when Conor Molloy’s late winner brought an end to K-K’s run of 26 straight championship wins.
Ciarán Slevin was KIlcormac-Killoughey’s top scorer in 2017 with 2-42 and he will be joined by Offaly panellists Conor Mahon, Cillian Kiely, Dan Currams, Conor Slevin, Thomas and Peter Geraghty, James Gorman and Jordan Quinn. Brian Carroll was Coolderry’s top scorer last year with 3-42, while Kevin Connolly scored 2-23 from play. Offaly captain David King is Coolderry’s sole Offaly panellist.
Sunday 1st April, at Banagher
Belmont v Kinnitty at 4.30pm
Easter Sunday sees a repeat of last year’s quarter-final in which Belmont advanced to their first ever semi-final with a 3-18 to 1-21 win. This will be the 11th meeting of the sides in Senior championship hurling, Kinnitty holding a 6 – 3 lead, while the sides drew in 2009.
Damien Egan, with 1-37, top scored for the Brosnasiders in 2017, while Colm Coughlan’s 2-55 saw the Kinnitty sharpshooter finish second to Seir Kieran’s Joseph Bergin in the overall scoring chart last year. Belmont will call on current Offaly panellists Colin Egan, Oisín Kelly and Damien Egan. Current Kinnitty men on the Offaly panel are Shane Kinsella, Paddy Delaney and Paddy Rigney.
Birr v Shinrone at 6pm
2016 runners up Birr take on Shinrone in the second act of Easter Suday’s Banagher double header. Both were beaten quarter-finalists last year, both losing out to eventual finalists, Birr to St Rynagh’s on a 0-18 to 0-19 scoreline, Shinrone going down to Kilcormac-Killoughey by 1-14 to 0-25. The sides last met in 2015’s 4th round when Birr won 2-17 to 2-13. Both have seen recent U21 success, Shinrone the winners in 2013, 2014 and 2016, Birr being part of the St Brendan’s parish team, the current U21 title holders.
Offaly goalkeeper Eóghan Cahill was Birr’s top scorer last year with 3-44, while he is joined on the current Offaly panel by Seán Ryan. Dónal Morkan’s 0-34 saw him emerge as Shinrone’s top scorer last year, while Dan Doughan and Ciarán Cleary are current Offaly panellists.
Molloy Environmental Systems Senior B Hurling Championship
Sunday 1st April at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park
Tullamore v Clodiagh Gaels at 12 noon
Neighbours Tullamore and Clodiagh Gaels get the new Senior B hurling competition underway on Easter Sunday. Tullamore actually go in search of their second title at the grade, being Senior B winners in 1990. Both made the drop from Senior at the end of last year, and last met in 2017’s first round, when Tullamore won 4-17 to 0-12.
Shane Dooley was Tullamore’s top scorer last year with 4-22, while Dwayne Dunne (0-26) was Clodiagh Gaels’ top scorer in their first year at Senior grade, having win the Intermediate championship in 2016. Shane Dooley and Liam Langton represent their clubs on the Offaly Senior panel.
Shamrocks v Brosna Gaels at 1.30pm
Shamrocks, the 2014 Intermediate winners, meet Brosna Gaels, Intermediate winners in 2009 and 2011, in just their second meeting ever. The first was a relegation semi-final in 2010 which Shamrocks won by 1-10 to 0-8. The sides come to Senior B grade from opposite directions, Shamrocks down from Senior, while the Leamonaghan Parish side were Intermediate finalists last year where they were beaten by Ballinamere.
Tom Spain is Brosna Gaels’ representative on the Offaly panel, while Derek Molloy is Shamrocks’ sole Offaly panellist.
Sunday 1st April, at Rath
Lusmagh v Carrig & Riverstown at 1.30pm
A rare meeting for these sides from opposite sides of the Little Brosna river, not having met in championship hurling since the 1971 Junior quarter-final, a match won by Carrig & Riverstown on their way to Junior championship success. Paul Kinsella was Lusmagh’s top scorer last year with 0-13 and Seán Gardiner is a current Offaly panellist, while Conor Freeman was C&R’s main marksman last year.
Lusmagh were Intermediate winners in 2015, while Carrig & Riverstown were intermediate finalists in 2016 and more recently played a big part in St Brendan’s U21 championship success last year.
Monday 2nd April, at Kilcormac
Drumcullen v Ballinamere, at 4.30pm
This first round throws up another rare meeting. Indeed, there are just three previous meetings on record, with Drumcullen winning all three, the 1908 Final 2-1 to 1-2, by 8-8 to 1-3 in 1949, and by 9-5 to 0-2 in 1954. Ballinamere are the current Intermediate holders, having win that championship with a 0-16 to 2-5 win over Brosna Gaels last year, while a number of their players were Minor winners with Ballinamere-Durrow in 2016 and 2017.
Drumcullen were Intermediate semi-finalists in two of the last three years, losing at the penultimate stage to Clodiagh Gaels in 2015 and to Brosna Gaels last year. They also formed part of the Drumcullen/Seir Kieran underage amalgamation, Seir Kieran Óg, Minor finalists in 2014. Colm Gath represents blue and red on the Offaly panel.
Molloy Environmental Systems Intermediate Hurling Championship
Sunday 1st April at Kilcormac
Clara v Seir Kieran
This is a first meeting of these teams at this grade, with Seir Kieran winning the Junior championship in 2014 and Clara doing likewise a year later. The Clareen men were quarter-finalists last year. Clara did not advance from their group though were semi-finalist in 2016.
Monday 2nd April
Kilcormac-Killoughey v Birr at Kinnitty at 2pm
The first part of an Intermediate double header, K-K were beaten quarter-finalists last year while Birr did not advance beyond the group stages. The sides last met at this grade in 2013 when K-K won the round 5 meeting by 3-20 to 1-9.
Coolderry v St Rynagh’s at Kinnitty at 3.30pm
Both were Intermediate quarter-finalists last year. This is their first meeting since 2014’s round 4 which St Rynagh’s won 0-18 to 1-12. St Rynagh’s were beaten finalists four times since 2010, while Coolderry were semi-finalists in 2012.
Ballyskenagh-Killavilla v Ballinamere at Kilcormac at 6pm
The second part of a double header, following the Ballinamere v Drumcullen Senior B game. Ballinamere are current Junior A champions, promoted following their 2-13 to 2-12 win over Belmont last October. Ballyskenagh-Killavilla did not advance from the group last year. They were Intermediate semi-finalists in 2014, losing out to eventual winners Shamrocks.